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The Most Important Book to Come out of Israel in Years – “My Promised Land” by Ari Shavit

by Rabbi John Rosove

January 14, 2014 | 6:56 am

Much has been written already about  Ari Shavit’s “My Promised Land – The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel” (just published).  I have included the links to four reviews below, and I add my accolades to theirs.

This new book is a must read for anyone wishing to understand the complexity of the competing ideologies, nationalisms, politics, cultures, religions, ethnicities, histories, and narratives  that make up modern Israel. The left-leaning Israeli author shines a light as well on how the Zionist movement,  the establishment of the State of Israel and Israel’s wars and security concerns have transformed the Jewish people and state for better and worse, and impacted the lives and aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Ari Shavit is a veteran journalist at Haaretz, Israel’s equivalent of The New York Times. His book is not an historian’s objective record of events, though there is much history in it. Rather,  this is both a memoir and a journalistic investigation into the nature of modern Israel using hundreds of interviews of Israelis and Palestinians conducted over many years.

The strengths of the book are many. It is the story behind the headlines as told personally by the leading players. Whether Shavit agrees with them or not, he lets them tell their own stories. He is a gifted writer, and his depth of knowledge and insight into Israel’s history and into trends within the various narratives is second to none. 

The book at once informs, enthralls, inspires, disgusts, and breaks your heart, whether you be an Israeli Jew, an Israeli Arab citizen, a Palestinian, an American, or anyone else who reads it and is open to Israel’s triumph and tragedy. Tom Friedman wrote in the NYT that everyone involved in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations ought to read this book immediately.

Finally, if you are a Jew living in Israel or the Diaspora, this book will likely challenge the meaning of your Jewish identity – so beware! However, as a good friend likes to say, “Love is what remains when you know the whole truth.” I pray that she is correct in this case.

I believe that “My Promised Land” is the most important book to come out of Israel in many years, and I recommend it without hesitation.

 

Here are four additional reviews worth reading:

Dwight Gardner of The New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/20/books/ari-shavits-my-promised-land.html?_r=0

Michael Berenbaum of The Los Angeles Jewish Journal - http://www.jewishjournal.com/books/article/michael_berenbaum_review_ari_shavits_my_promised_land

Noam Sheizaf of +972 Magazine - http://972mag.com/book-review-on-ari-shavits-my-promised-land/83686/

Jane Eisner of The Jewish Daily Forward - http://forward.com/articles/187813/art-shavit-still-believes-in-a-promised-land/?p=all

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Rabbi John L. Rosove assumed his duties as Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood in November 1988. A native of Los Angeles, he earned a BA in Art History from UC Berkeley...

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